The survey, conducted by OnePoll for National Debt Relief between Aug. 4-8, 2023, found that although younger generations were concerned about the effect older generations’ financial decisions will have on them, 62% of all respondents (split evenly by generation) admit they make poor money decisions sometimes. Almost half (48%) of respondents said their parents influenced their money habits.
With 51% of respondents admitting they have been in debt at some point, and 42% currently experiencing money troubles, the study also found that many Americans are eager to destigmatize “shameful” debt (36%) and are taking responsibility for their bad spending and savings habits.
“There’s a lot of guilt and shame people feel when they’re in debt and that needs to change,” said Natalia Brown, chief client operations officer at National Debt Relief. “The data shows that most of us face challenges with money and that none of us are alone in that.”
Here are the five most common bad money habits — and ones you need to unlearn as soon as possible — according to the National Debt Relief/OnePoll study:
1. Writing Off Small Purchases As Insignificant (43%)
It’s easy to make simple purchases that can add up over time, so you have to hold yourself accountable for how you spend your money. Even if it seems like an insignificant purchase, write it down or acknowledge it. Spending even a few extra dollars a week can account for hundreds of dollars a year. And resist the urge to make impulsive buys or in-app purchases.
2. Gambling (39%)
Gambling can develop into an addiction quickly. When gambling becomes uncontrollable, the problem gambler will spend even more money, attempting and usually failing, to win back their losses. Regardless of income, those who spend too much on gambling are prone to have overdue bills, max out their credit cards, and borrow money. Even low levels of gambling are linked to financial hardship and unemployment, per The Guardian.
3. Using Credit To Pay Bills (33%)
Paying your bills with a quick credit card swipe or online payment can be tempting. When credit cards are considered an extension of income, people are often unable to pay the balance off entirely, leading to hefty credit card interest charges and increases in debt. Credit card debt should always be counted as an expense in your budget.
4. Taking Out Payday Loans (28%)
Where to begin? No matter how hard up for cash you are, payday loans should be avoided at all costs and used only as a short-term fix or last-ditch option. Unless you pay the loan off immediately, staggering interest rates and fees will keep you in debt long after you’ve spent that cash. There are more affordable ways to get money, so if this is one of your bad financial habits, break it immediately.
5. Spending More Than I Earn (26%)
It’s hard to save any money if you are overspending. And spending more than you earn is a surefire way to accumulate debt. It’s impossible to truly control your money if you aren’t budgeting what is coming in and what you must spend. Amounts vary, but almost 30% of Americans generally don’t use a budget to track their money, according to Credit.com.
More From GOBankingRates